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                          "HARDENED BY DECEIT"

                              Hebrews 3:13


1. When a Christian loses his or her faith, it is a difficult thing to
   a. As they drift further and further away from the Lord
   b. Especially when it involves a dear friend or beloved relative

2. Some might question whether the person was ever truly saved...
   a. The Calvinist would so affirm (believing in "once saved, always
   b. While possible one was never saved, also possible is actual
      apostasy - He 3:12-14
   c. A believer can become an unbeliever, thereby losing any security
      afforded the believer

[Our text reveals that apostasy begins when the heart is "Hardened By
Deceit".  That we might better understand what happens and avoid such a
tragedy, let's first take a closer look at...]


      1. There are the "passing pleasures of sin" - He 11:25
         a. Sin can certainly promise pleasure
         b. But such pleasure is only temporary ("passing")
         c. Sin's destructive forces soon follow (social, mental,
            physical, spiritual) - e.g., Pr 5:8-14
      2. There is "the deceitfulness of riches" - Mt 13:22
         a. Riches of this world promise much (pleasure, power,
         b. But they are uncertain, as evidenced in times of economic
            collapse - 1Ti 6:17
         c. Love of money leads one away from God, toward destruction
            and sorrow - 1Ti 6:9-10
      -- Sin entrances, but deceives with its false promises

      1. Those who commit sin become slaves of sin - Jn 8:34
         a. Like one who becomes addicted to drugs
         b. Even those once delivered from the bondage of sin - 2Pe
      2. The bondage of sin can be overwhelming - Ro 7:14-25
         a. Without Christ, the will to do good might be present, but
            the ability is not
         b. And thus we become slaves to sin - cf. Ro 6:16
      -- Sin enslaves, having deceived us through false promises of

[Once enslaved to sin through the entrancement of sin, the downward
spiral of apostasy leads toward unbelief through...]


      1. Consider those who walk in the futility of their minds - Ep
         a. Their understanding is darkened, they are alienated from God
         b. Because of their ignorance, because of their blindness
      2. The same thing happens to those once saved - 2Pe 2:20-22
         a. They are again entangled and overcome by the pollutions of
            the world
         b. But now it is worse than before!
      -- Enslaved to sin, one soon becomes blind to reality

      1. Consider again those who walk in the futility of their minds
         - Ep 4:19,22
         a. They are past feeling
         b. They are given over to lewdness, moral uncleanness,
         c. The man of sin grows corrupt according to deceitful lusts
      2. The same thing happens to those once saved - He 3:12-14
         a. We can become hardened through the deceitfulness of sin
         b. Leading to an evil heart of unbelief in departing from God
      3. Making it difficult for others to reach out to their hard
         hearts, as long as they:
         a. Persist in crucifying Christ afresh - He 6:4-6
         b. Persist in sinning willfully - He 10:26-31
      -- The hardening of sin can lead to a terrifying end!


1. For the alien sinner who is "Hardened By Deceit"...
   a. There is still hope:  the gospel of Christ!
   b. That contains the power of God to save - Ro 1:16
   c. By breaking through the bondage of sin - Ro 7:25; 8:1-2,12-13

2. For the erring Christian who is "Hardened By Deceit"...
   a. There is still hope:  the chastening of the Lord!
   b. Who chastens that we not be condemned with the world - 1Co
   c. Because God loves His children - He 12:5-11

At times it may seem impossible to break through the hard hearts of
loved ones that have been deceived by sin.  But let us not underestimate
the power of the gospel of Christ and the love of God to break those
hard hearts!  Let us stand ready to assist those who positively respond
to God's grace.

In the meantime, may those whose hearts are still tender heed the

   Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of
   unbelief in departing from the living God;

   but exhort one another daily, while it is called "TODAY," lest
   any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

   For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning
   of our confidence steadfast to the end..."
                                                      - He 3:12-14
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